Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Justis will present two state-wide seminars on internet crime and as a part of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan’s annual training program for prosecutors and prosecutor-based victim advocates.
Justis, who specializes in prosecuting domestic violence cases, will focus on internet crimes that occur when intimate relationships are involved, including cyber-harassment, stalking, and “revenge pornography.” Revenge pornography involves posting nude photos of a victim on a website or on social media without his or her consent, as a form of public shaming.
“Cyber-harassment and other computer crimes are a quickly-growing trend in intimate partner violence,” says Justis. “The fact is, we live a great deal of our lives today on social media and the internet. It’s not difficult to see how serious the effects of internet crime can be when we remember just how much of our time and energy is invested in our virtual lives.”
Justis says that domestic violence victims are particularly susceptible to internet crimes because they are often experiencing many other types of harm, including isolation and physical abuse. “Domestic violence is really about control; controlling a partner’s virtual life can be both a tremendously powerful and tremendously destructive act. For people who are already suffering, the effects of can be profound.”
Michigan law imposes penalties for crimes involving internet harassment, ranging from misdemeanor offenses to serious felony charges.
“It’s important for law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates to know how serious this type of abuse can be, and that there are tools available when it comes to responding to this type of violence,” says Justis. “These seminars are chances for professionals from across the state to meet, to share resources, and to work together to make the internet a safer space.”
The trainings will take place on June 14th in Lansing and June 16th in Houghton Lake. Sergeant Paul Pesmark of the Detroit Police Department, an internet crimes specialist, will also be presenting.